On the Gospel of Luke 24:1-12
In the Church’s liturgy over the last few days the final events of Christ’s earthly existence have been celebrated and made present to us. It is difficult to imagine the sense of loss, desolation, and bewilderment suffered by the disciples in the aftermath of Christ’s Passion and Death. All their hopes seemingly lay in tatters: after all, it was reasonable to believe that death had had the final word. It is in this context that the women go to the tomb on the first Easter morning. There they are met with the startling message: “Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?”
When the women report their experience at the empty tomb to the Eleven and the others they are met with incredulity. Still reeling from the ignominy of the Cross they do not believe what seems to them to be “pure nonsense.” Not only do they have to cope with the folly of the Cross, now they are confronted with a seeming impossibility, namely the resurrection! As we know, they do indeed come to faith in the Risen Christ in spite of doubts and hesitation. They come to the realization that God in Christ has reconciled the world to Himself and that in Christ He has freed us from the bonds of sin and death.
As is evident from the Acts of the Apostles, the early Christians could not constrain themselves from spreading this Good News. One who comes to an authentic faith in Christ can never be content with a ‘private’ faith – as exemplified by the women who communicate their experience to the others. In the resurrection Love has shown itself stronger than sin and death, and since true faith is animated by this Love it cannot contemplate keeping others in bondage to sin and death. It does its best to bring others to the fullness of faith passed down to us in the Church from these first witnesses to the resurrection.
Many Catholics today can feel overwhelmed by the pressure from a secularized society which tells them to keep their faith to themselves. Today more than ever, however, it is imperative to stand strong, particularly as the forces of the culture of death – forces inimical to Christ Who is the Resurrection and the Life – bear down on Ireland. In this regard it is important to remember that the resurrection is not an isolated event consigned to history. It is rather a living force that works its power by grace in the lives of believers.
In recent times in Ireland there are thankfully increasing numbers of people in whom the power of Christ’s resurrection is working in a special way as is evident in their defence of the sanctity of all human life. There can be no doubt that the Risen Christ is calling us all to support the sanctity of all human life in whatever way we can and in this way bear witness to Him and to the central event in the history of humankind, namely His resurrection from the dead.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
– Luke 24:1-12